Strongly Emergent

What comes from combining humans, computers, and narrative

What I Learn in This School

Right now I’m studying at a career college, and I’m bumping up against the limits of that. I feel like I should be in a computer-science program somewhere, but my track record excludes that. Fine. I can build towards that goal - and in the meantime, I’m going to build as much of a computer-science curriculum as I can out of the sysadmin curriculum on offer here. I hope that I’ll end up with some interesting hybrid, and that’s useful to strive for.

The actual sysadmin track here is interesting to me, and looks useful. It covers a lot of things that are very interesting to me: how to actually run a for-serious network, both in the Microsoft Way and in one iteration of the Unix Ways. That’s totally interesting to me. I feel like it shies away from some things that I feel are necessities of really proficient sysadmin work, though. One teacher told me recently that “we’re trying not to get into programming courses.” Well, that’s an interesting goal, but being a good sysadmin means knowing when to automate so you can spend your time most efficiently. You’re not going to be a good sysadmin unless you can spend your time very efficiently, and that means that you’re going to need to automate at least sometimes, and that means perl, that means PowerShell, that means bash scripting, that may even mean Python, Ruby, PHP, AppleScript, and VBA.

To fill this need, the college currently assigns a teeny little slice of the later Windows Server classes, a little slice of the Linux classes, and a dedicated class based on Windows 9x/NT/XP batch files. This is not satisfying. While it’s much better than nothing, and it’s great for introducing the concept that as much of a server as possible should be scriptable, it seems very lacking to me. It doesn’t expose the full scope of the problem domain that scripting can address, and it binds students into a crippled environment with ugly syntax, the MS-DOS command line. Either bash scripting or PowerShell should be incorporated - PowerShell is built into Windows 2008 and seems to have plenty of life in it, and the corpus of existing bash lore is very large. Both of these would serve students better than the minimal scripting knowledge that’s currently being imparted by the school’s curriculum.